Category Archives: Society

#NewConstLK #lka We must talk about the new constitution

Since there was a big discussion during the last two elections and since there is disappointment people who opposed as well and people who supported the new government, this is really the time to discuss what should be in the constitution to realize the changes people voted for in the year 2015. From creating a Sri Lankan identity to the education qualifications of the MPs as well as Ministers should be included in that discussion. We may not have to agree to all of it but we should agree to disagree and have that discussion.

If you don’t say anything as usual in Sri Lanka, some self proclaimed experts will get what they want included in the constitution and another generation will have to suffer to make the necessary changes again in the future. First step let’s get all the controversial as well as non-controversial opinions out in the open.

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Filed under Constitution, Politics, Society, Sri Lanka

#lka Social Innovation ideas for the Sri Lankan Government Service – Part 1

One of the new trends in Sri Lanka is for many politicians to talk about innovation economy. I always wondered whether they know what they are talking about. Anyway, I still am glad that even not knowing the full context, these two words are being discussed. Innovation economy is a concept where entrepreneurship and innovation are given prominence. In my opinion the Sinhala translation of the word innovation “නවෝත්පාදනය” may not capture the full concept of the word but since I am not an expert of languages, I will stay out of commenting on it any further.

I recently with my team looked at few concepts of innovation. Though they have been doing this for little over two years now, looking back at these concepts helped me to think about these concepts in a different point of view. One of the main concepts of innovation is to think from the customer’s point of view. In other words empathizing with customers. To state simply this is to understand a problem from the people who are facing it and devising solutions for those problems. The word customer has a broader meaning in this case. It is anyone, one is dealing with for example, your boss, your employee, you parents, teachers, friends, etc.

The first idea of this post occurred in my head on the 3rd of April when my Peradeniya University batch mates had a get together. Many of my batch mates specially females are now teaching in schools in Kandy area. When talking to them few of them mentioned a well known issue of closing the road next to the Dalada Maligawa and how it has affected their travelling and travelling time to their respective schools. That same day while driving back to Colombo, I was thinking about this problem. Road closing or opening is a decision of some government agency (regional/national). This agency (I assume attached to either the Ministry of Highways or the Ministry of Internal Transportation) decided to keep the road closed. Let’s leave out the reason for a moment. The customers of this government agency would be the people like my batch mates who has to use that road. Roads might also have safety and environmental issues related to it too. In such a situation those relevant agencies should look at from their customers point of views too. For a person who only read the related issues on news papers (very little is written anyway about this), it seems like this agency is only looking at this problem from the point of view of politicians and religious leaders.

I have been at the receiving end of few fines for minor rules violations while driving. I am not complaining about the tickets but as a customer  who would like to pay the fines on time, the hassle one has to go through for paying fines is something I could not agree to. First you have to go to the Police station to pick up one form, then have to go to the post office to pay for it, then bring the receipt back to the police station to pick up the driving licence. Sometimes to pay a LKR 500 ticket, one has to lose few hours of work and spend nearly LKR 300 of additional money of tuk tuks. Overall economics of paying the fine does not make any sense. As the postal mail is a dying business in the 21st century, coming up with an internet based payment system for all the government related payments happening through post office might help saving the postal service a little bit longer. Additionally, the necessary changes to the law should also accompany, so that the policemen do not have to keep the driving licences. The unpaid fines with interest could be linked to the revenue licence renewal at the end of the year. This will lead to higher collection of fines, less wasting of time of everyone involved, less bribing of Police officers and actually catching the culprits who break the law. In this case all the government agencies and law makers should focus more on their customers (we the general public) but less on balancing each other.

There are many other ideas, will keep on writing if time and life permit. For the moment this will be stopped here as this note is getting too long and boring to read.

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Filed under Colombo, Future, Government Service, Industries of Sri Lanka, Innovation, My experiences, Politics, Science, Science in Sri Lanka, Society, Sri Lanka

Why Sri Lanka needs an Emerging Technology Advisory Center?

It might be an island thing. Though in many ways the world has shrunk, most of our people still live in a 19th to 20th century world. In news media, many examples of such incompatibilities are apparent. In industry, in universities and in the country as a whole many invisible incompatibilities exist. One may say that it is a language issue, but I beg to differ. It is not just among the rural Sri Lankan, but also among the English speaking Colombo crowd too. In the last 30 years or so the development of technology and the engagement of people from all over the world have made the world shrink.

In my view the biggest development happened in the computer technology (in both hardware and software fronts). In the hardware front it has made the computers available for individual usage even on the go (40 years ago they were bulky, expensive and in 1977 the president, chairman and the founder of DEC corporation USA, Ken Olson famously said, “There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home”). In the software front they have become very user friendly, figured out their glitches and become fashionable, manageable and less intimidating.

Secondly, making use of the above developments the World Wide Web (the internet) has made it a connected world, which now has nearly 3 billion users. As of the end of 2013, 39 percent of the world population is connected to the WWW and nearly half of them lives in Asia. The number of users in Asia is more that of both Europe and North America put together. Google X, a company associated with the internet giant Google Corporation, is planning on making internet available for the whole world within the next year. They have been testing high altitude balloon powered internet for more than a year now. They even bought a wind power generator company to provide power to these balloons.

With above advancements a myriad of internet-related services, social media networks, software developers, data analysts, and related industries have seen a massive growth. In addition, all these developments have affected areas such as genetics and biotechnology, chemistry, physics, marketing, production, medicine and pharmaceuticals, delivery services, banking and finance, transportation, lodging, logistics, economics, politics, etc. Parallel to all these some other technologies such as biotechnology, nanotechnology, green technology came into the field as organized technological fronts.

If one has studied the industrial revolution in 18th to 19th century, it wouldn’t be hard to understand that we may be going through another such historic event at present. Unfortunately, some of the industrial revolution related events such as agricultural revolution is not yet complete in Sri Lanka. Leaving the past aside we may be able to create a new opportunity this time around if we organize ourselves as one unit. One of the biggest reasons demanding this level of organization is the fact that current policy makers, officials and business leaders belong to the generation prior to the beginning of this strategic inflection point.

I did not intend any disrespect to them but we all have to admit that the current younger generation is far savvier with these new technologies and the decisions we all are making is going to affect their world. If we can collectively setup a platform for them to thrive, Sri Lanka will be a different place in the future.

What would be the makeup and the mandate of such an organization? I think it should be funded  and represent both the public and the private sector with people who are current in the technological knowledge in a variety of fields. This organization should look into the technologies which could bring strategic advantage of upcoming technologies to the country as a whole and advise the relevant industries and public officials. Additionally, they should create awareness among the general public and the potential users. The existing organizations such as NSF, MOTR, and CoSTI, all suffer from the above shortcomings.

This is not to devalue what they are doing currently. All these organizations are doing a fantastic job on advising and popularizing the existing technologies but I am talking about technologies such as Synthetic Biology, Big Data, Artificial Intelligence, 3D Printing, etc. I am talking about suggesting upgrades of payment systems of simple things like a traffic fine at the point of offence if the person is accepting the violation, without affecting the revenue streams of both the postal services as well as the Police. I am talking about preventing the obsoleteness of horses felt after the first industrial revolution.

– See more at: http://www.nation.lk/edition/free/item/33875-why-sri-lanka-needs-an-emerging-technology-advisory-center.html#sthash.TMMdExkd.dpuf

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Filed under Industries of Sri Lanka, Nanotechnology, Science, Science in Sri Lanka, Society, Sri Lanka

Traffic (Colombo, Sri Lanka) – Part 1

I drive and I like driving. It helps me to think, debate with myself, think of new things and driving calm me down. At least it used to. Not anymore. I am not boasting. I drive a Honda Insight; a hybrid car. It tells me my fuel efficiency as I drive. Once I drove from Kadawatha, Sri Lanka to Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka back and forth with one tankful of gasoline. Nearly 700 km. When there is no traffic I can drive to work in 25 minutes and my car does about 22 km per liter of gasoline. With traffic sometimes I have taken 1 hour 40 minutes and 7 km per liter. I only realized this because my car shows those numbers. I will point out (in my opinion) why there is so many traffic jams in Sri Lanka, in this part 1.

I think a lot about how the traffic flow work. I wonder how Physics, Mathematics, Engineering, materials science, chemistry and psychology works during driving. Even for the people who are not well versed with mathematics, their brain will do so many relative speed (velocity) calculations before changing a lane, accelerate or decelerate. Those motor cyclists, do many more like that as they are a dot compared many vehicles in a road. Engineering, Materials Science, Physics and Chemistry, runs the car but psychology actually drives it. Do these three wheeler with the driver’s children’s name on the back of the vehicle, really think about them and the family when they drive like this; my mind wonders. Do these motor cycles with parents and 3 kids riding on them be allowed to endanger their kids like this?

In my opinion many factors contributes to the traffic jams in Sri Lanka. In no particular order they are;

1. Road Condition. Although many roads are being built and resurfaced, there are still many more not good enough to drive smoothly
2. Motor Cycles – not adhering to any road rules. Creating their own lane, riding on the wrong side of the road. All these lead to breaking and slowing down of all the big vehicles. Each of the small delays adds up to a big delay. Most of the time they go to the front of the traffic at a light but they don’t have pick up to drive away fast. This makes few larger vehicles to miss the light and jam to get longer.
3. Three Wheeler – Most of the above comments
4. Smaller cars – Most of the above comments
5. General disregard of the rules – Lots of people use politicians as an example. I agree but just because one does something wrong, we all should not follow it. Do any of the drivers know that there are traffic lanes?
6. Slow drivers on the right most lane – self explanatory
7. Oversize vehicles on narrow roads – self explanatory
8. Bad drivers – self explanatory
9. Leaner drivers – most of the time they come to road in the rush hour
10. Attitude – Even when one driver does something wrong, they talk and act like the other driver is at fault. Most of the people think they can win with words though they are at fault. People say if you can drive in Sri Lanka, you can drive anywhere – that is the dumbest, stupidest thing I have ever heard. Just because one act like an idiot, they will not learn anything.
11. Problem with the Police – there are not enough men on the road. They use archaic methods to issue a fine, which simply takes too much time. Payment of the fine add on to further loss of productivity in the country. They ignore certain offenses thinking they are minor. Generally there is no implementation of the road rules.
12.Pedestrians – sometimes this is related to the road (side walk) conditions. Sometime they cross the road as and when they want. Sometimes they just walk in the middle of the road. Sometimes they intentionally block the road on protests and on other situation like building structures for functions.
13. Politicians – mainly not caring and not setting an example to the public. Not doing anything to solve the problem
14. Technology – distracted drivers, non-functioning traffic lights, etc.

Next time I will try to write something about solutions I wonder about while driving. In the meantime we could do our part. To save fuel, to save the environment, to increase the productivity, to decrease the stress and related illnesses, to be better citizens of humanity, be considerate while driving.

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Filed under Colombo, My experiences, Politics, Society, Sri Lanka, Sri Lankan Police, Traffic

When will you wake up?

I think it is mostly a Sri Lankan thing. Most of us live in denial. In made up worlds. Fake realities. I know lots of people in my life do that. I wonder why. I try to live with my feet on the ground in the hard cold reality. I think that is the wrong way to live.

I realized this recently while watching a NCIS episode. Agent DiNozzo was talking about how he has given a veggie to a kid in in high school only to realize later that he was the one who receive it.

I know lots of people in my life (parents, siblings, friends both male and female, relatives) who live in made up realities. As it is known by everyone if one is telling a made up story enough times, it become a reality in their minds as well as the people who heard it. Is it lying? May be or may be not. As the video clip states, it may be making things easier. Running away from our own lives is the easiest way yo live. What if (YES WHAT IF)…everyone lives in reality instead.

It is not only in the personal lives, we Sri Lankan live obliviously in our own made up realities specially in social and public lives. When will you wake up??

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Filed under My experiences, Politics, Society

Law of the Jungle..

The Law of the Jungle (From The Jungle Book) by Rudyard Kipling

Now this is the Law of the Jungle —
as old and as true as the sky;
And the Wolf that shall keep it may prosper,
but the Wolf that shall break it must die.

As the creeper that girdles the tree-trunk
the Law runneth forward and back —
For the strength of the Pack is the Wolf,
and the strength of the Wolf is the Pack.

Wash daily from nose-tip
to tail-tip;drink deeply, but never too deep;
And remember the night is for hunting,
and forget not the day is for sleep.

The Jackal may follow the Tiger,
but, Cub, when thy whiskers are grown,
Remember the Wolf is a Hunter —
go forth and get food of thine own.

Keep peace withe Lords of the Jungle —
the Tiger, the Panther, and Bear.
And trouble not Hathi the Silent,
and mock not the Boar in his lair.

When Pack meets with Pack in the Jungle,
and neither will go from the trail,
Lie down till the leaders have spoken —
it may be fair words shall prevail.

When ye fight with a Wolf of the Pack,
ye must fight him alone and afar,
Lest others take part in the quarrel,
and the Pack be diminished by war.

The Lair of the Wolf is his refuge,
and where he has made him his home,
Not even the Head Wolf may enter,
not even the Council may come.

The Lair of the Wolf is his refuge,
but where he has digged it too plain,
The Council shall send him a message,
and so he shall change it again.

If ye kill before midnight, be silent,
and wake not the woods with your bay,
Lest ye frighten the deer from the crop,
and your brothers go empty away.

Ye may kill for yourselves, and your mates,
and your cubs as they need, and ye can;
But kill not for pleasure of killing,
and seven times never kill Man!

If ye plunder his Kill from a weaker,
devour not all in thy pride;
Pack-Right is the right of the meanest;
so leave him the head and the hide.

The Kill of the Pack is the meat of the Pack.
Ye must eat where it lies;
And no one may carry away of that meat to his lair,
or he dies.

The Kill of the Wolf is the meat of the Wolf.
He may do what he will;
But, till he has given permission,
the Pack may not eat of that Kill.

Cub-Right is the right of the Yearling.
From all of his Pack he may claim
Full-gorge when the killer has eaten;
and none may refuse him the same.

Lair-Right is the right of the Mother.
From all of her year she may claim
One haunch of each kill for her litter,
and none may deny her the same.

Cave-Right is the right of the Father —
to hunt by himself for his own:
He is freed of all calls to the Pack;
he is judged by the Council alone.

Because of his age and his cunning,
because of his gripe and his paw,
In all that the Law leaveth open,
the word of your Head Wolf is Law.

Now these are the Laws of the Jungle,
and many and mighty are they;
But the head and the hoof of the Law
and the haunch and the hump is — Obey!

http://www.facebook.com/notes/muditha-d-senarath-yapa/the-law-of-the-jungle-from-the-jungle-book-by-rudyard-kipling/10152413483410453

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Filed under දේශපාලනික, සමාජීය, Politics, Society

Is he a player, psychopath..? Ladies?

This is not a personal note. This is a collection of thoughts after watching a recent TED talk and some observations made along the way because for some reason people open up to me an talk about things.

Why domestic violence victims don’t leave

Sri Lankan culture is such that most of the romantic/marital relationships are either arranged or it is the only relationship for either the boy or the girl or both of them. Though I don’t have data to back, I think this accounts for about 75% of Sri Lankan marriages. It is considered a taboo to have more than one relationship if one falls apart. It is taboo to “shop around” as the following song says.

Most of the time women are the victims. They get used by men either on their ignorance, naivety or by cultural taboo. How do one identify that a boy friend (or a girl friend) is a psychopath? Are psychological trails clear before two people enter into a marriage and live (un)happily ever after?

Some of the readings in the internt lead me to:

http://www.uncommon-knowledge.co.uk/articles/strings-psychopathy.html
The charming manipulator

The socialized psychopath is likely to be too smart to end up in jail.

The socialized psychopath can appear extremely charming. You have to know them really well and have a fair amount of insight yourself to spot that they always and only ever do what suits them. As long as they are getting their own way, they can be as charming as you could wish, and the most delightful company. But they will lie at the drop of a hat, without the slightest twinge of anxiety or guilt (so the old ‘lie detector’ polygraph test wouldn’t be likely to catch them out). They will use other people for their own ends without the smallest concern – treating them as no more than chess pieces in their ‘game’. They have no sense of guilt or remorse and will always be able to come up with plausible rationalizations for their behavior which allow them to lay the blame for any subsequent disaster on other people. And, of course, once chess pieces have served their purpose, there is no reason why they should not be discarded.

Is it surprising that politics and show business are thought to have more than their fair share of socialized psychopaths?

Cruel yet magnetic

The socialized psychopath can be very attractive for the very qualities that make them psychopathic. This is not as contradictory as it sounds. A person whom we sense is not encumbered with the same inhibitions, doubts, uncertainties and sensitivities that plague the rest of mankind can seem very attractive. They can have such an aura of confidence and freedom about them. They may be enormously fun sensation-seeking risk takers. There are ‘no strings on them’ – or so it would appear. They may even seem like heroes to us. And they will keep us onside while we are useful to them. If you watch them carefully, however, their humor will tend to be on the cruel side.

Cult leader Jim Jones was very magnetic and attracted a great number of followers to his ‘Jonestown’ settlement where they met their tragic deaths. He was reported to have enjoyed dissecting live animals as a child – a common childhood indicator of psychopathy. Other people’s suffering does not shock the psychopath as it does ordinary people, although they can look as shocked as anyone on the surface. How so?

Feigning empathy

Someone with Asperger syndrome (a mild form of autism) finds it difficult to empathise with other people because they are to some extent ’emotion blind’. They find it hard to read the emotions of others, or to see a connection between the emotional responses of others and what they themselves have actually done or said. As a consequence, they can sometimes seem cruel or insensitive, but they don’t mean to be. They assume that other people see the world in the same way as they do themselves, and struggle to comprehend that there really are different perspectives. This makes someone with Aspergers actually less likely to lie or attempt to deceive – they see no need for it.

A psychopath is a different kettle of fish altogether. A psychopath is not ’emotion blind’. They can ‘read’ other people’s emotions perfectly well, and mimic them perfectly well. And for them, other people’s emotions are just another counter to use in their games. They themselves rarely get worked up about anything except not getting what they want.

How do you deal with someone who has no empathy, guilt, remorse or fear?

A psychopath may understand other people frighteningly well. They can watch dispassionately, with a cold and calculating mind, going convincingly through the motions of empathy on the surface while focusing on how to turn the situation to their advantage. The only way to spot them is to observe them carefully over a significant period of time. Do they regularly say one thing and then do another, more than other people? Do they use people emotionally, sexually, professionally and then discard them casually? Do they sometimes seem strangely un-shocked by shocking events?

Cold hearts

Not surprisingly, many two-faced bullies show strong psychopathic tendencies. As they say: ‘You can’t turn a lion into a vegetarian by throwing veggie burgers at it.’ Trying to appeal to the better nature of a person who hasn’t got a better nature is a losing strategy. Psychopaths do not feel guilt or shame. They won’t feel genuinely sorry for you and will only put up a front of convincing looking sympathy for as long as it suits them.

If you suspect there is a psychopath causing havoc in your life then you need to avoid them as much as possible. Collect and record evidence of their manipulative behavior. Try to avoid seeing them except when other people are around. Psychopaths leave a string of broken hearts, disappointment, bewilderment and empty wallets in their wake. Romantic relationships with a psychopath (of either sex) are fraught with dangers to your emotional and even physical well-being.

and this

http://www.advocate.com/arts-entertainment/books/2012/06/21/warning-signs-whether-your-new-boyfriend-psychopath

How to Tell if You’re With an Almost Psychopath
The sooner you know whether you are in a relationship with an almost psychopath, the sooner you can do something about it. Here are some warning signs to look for:

1. The person is glib and charming in an inconsistent way: over the top in coming across as likable and engaging, but turning it on and off like a light switch.
2. The person lies. Almost psychopaths may lie about big things, like why they didn’t show up for a date, where they were last night, or their past, as well as about little things, like saying they will go to the store and then denying that you ever asked them to.
3. You pay the rent, the utilities, for drinks; everything. (Although there may be reassurance about “next time”).
4. You find yourself being controlled, isolated from your friends and family, but pressured to report your whereabouts at all times.
5. You are being abused, psychologically or physically, including being pressured to do things, socially or sexually, that you don’t want to do.
6. You feel yourself being pressured to use alcohol or drugs, and you end up doing things you otherwise would not do.
7. When things go wrong, it is always someone else’s fault — including yours.
8. Shallow emotions: The person speaks words of love and affection but doesn’t seem to experience those emotions.
9. The person has no sense of remorse if they hurt you or others.
10. The person doesn’t care about right or wrong, at work, with you, or in any aspect of life

I don’t want to put my opinion here. Just reporting for anyone to make up their own minds…Take Care, it is your life.

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Filed under Society